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Gavin's Underground

The Continentals, Desert Noises, Glade Sowards

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2010-04-20 -

So if you didn't get out of the house Saturday and over to a shop celebrating Record Store Day, it sucks to be you. This past Saturday, and City Weekly's new favorite non-holiday, was a boom of music all around the state. With a huge sign of love and support for local bands and artists who took the time to come out and essentially play a free show for whoever stopped by at the many different locations. So of course coverage was due somewhere.

As its become the unofficial tradition, I stopped by Slowtrain for their all-day extravaganza. Featuring bands out back and more intimate solo shows down in the brand new Subterranean Lounge, which was kicking out frosty $3 beers all day. For this year's show I got to chat with The Continentals, Desert Noises and Glade Sowards, along with a ton of photos for your viewing pleasure.

The Continentals (Erik Robbin, Jordan Watko, Kevin Fleming, Shane Webb, Ben Alleman and Logan Hone)

http://www.myspace.com/thecontinentalsut

Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.

Logan: We are a band from Salt Lake City, Utah. We released an album in January called Rhino that we're really excited about.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Jordan: I think we definitely all came from very different musical backgrounds, but honestly it was the local scene that really brought us together musically. We all love the Uzi & Ari records and fairly quickly got excited about what other people were doing in the scene. All of our previous musical interests obviously influence what and how we write to an extent, but I think this common energy about local acts and even our own little garage bands that we were playing with really influenced us more than anything. I mean I grew up listening to Radiohead and The Cure, but that seems so fantastical and out of reach. Something about seeing these local bands putting together incredible live shows and even more incredible records got me really excited about music in a new way. I still feel like some of the best records I own are things i picked up at Kilby Court and Slowtrain.

Logan: Sister Suvi.

Shane: The most influential band for me growing up would definitely be Chicago. I listed to them a ton when I was a kid. Now the music I listen to is a lot different than what I used to listen to but I still go back to my original roots for some inspiration. Chicago is my inspiration. And yes, that is a pun.

Gavin: How did you all get together to form The Continentals?

Logan: We were a close circle of friends playing in different bands but all practicing at Ben's house. We just started writing songs together and adding more friends.

Jordan: Ya, it was fairly spontaneous and natural. It would be a Friday night and we'd all be sitting in the basement with a 16 track recorder and a couple condenser mics and someone would ask, "What are we recording tonight?" That's actually how the band got started. Just that simple.

Ben: My house is the best! I bought the 16 track recorder to get friends, and it worked.

Shane: I started jamming with Ben and Logan and a couple of other kids and at first I was really intimidated about playing with other guys but soon I realized that it wasn't anything to get nervous over. We started adding more people and writing more songs.

Logan: Yeah, what's funny is that even though we were practicing in Ben's basement, he actually didn't join the band until about a year after we started. He didn't start playing until after the
Safety EP was released but he was helping out and contributing so much before that it just made sense to have him join.

Gavin: The group consists of a seven piece formation playing multiple instruments between you. What was it like creating music together and formulating the unique sound for both the album and live?

Jordan: As we kind of mentioned, there definitely wasn't a shortage of musicians in our group of friends. We all played different instruments with our different projects. When the seven of us started playing together, only a few of us would really come up with song ideas. Then it was just a matter of adding layers and asking ourselves what the songs needed. Finding a "sound" wasn't a conscious decision as much as just the outcome of the instrumentation we fell into. Eventually we settled in on what set up worked best for us in terms of writing and playing live, and that's what we have stuck with. In terms of recording though we always try to use a variety of sounds and for that we experiment a lot with instruments that we maybe don't usually play or not quite as experienced with.

Gavin: What was the recording process like behind the
Safety EP, and the difficulties you dealt with while putting it together?

Jordan: I don't think any of us really had a clue to be honest. I had a little experience with Ableton Live, but besides that it was really just trial and error. We had these really stripped down songs that we were writing in fields and busking on the weekends and it just came to the point that we wanted them to be accurately represented on a recording.

Logan: We recorded the
Safety EP with the 16 track Tascam recorder which we had been using for a while before we actually recorded. But this was the first time that we were actually recording a real set of songs. So it was a new experience for us to try to tie the songs together and make it a whole piece of work rather than just a few individual songs.

Jordan: Getting to know the 16 track and how to get good sound and composition was a huge influence on the recordings I believe. All of the sudden i had to become even more invested in these songs and really make them into something that people would want to listen to.

Logan: And not just something that people would want to listen to, but something that we would want to listen to ourselves.

Shane: Logan and Jordan did most of the work putting the songs together of the
Safety EP. I just recorded what I felt like playing and they made it sound decent.

Gavin: Do you prefer the DIY style of recording or do you wish you had a studio to perfect it in?

Logan: We like recording ourselves because we have a decent setup and have been able to get the sounds we want and not worry about how much time we are spending. It's nice recording for free but if we had the opportunity to record in a professional studio with a producer that we liked and respected, we'd definitely do it.

Ben: In the beginning, if we had studio time and the clock ticking, we would have been a wreck and been in the hands of the engineer/producer, but now, we are quite confident with things we want and could probably convey those things to a producer easier. Bands without confidence when working with a producer will probably be dissatisfied later down the road because the record really could have been contrary to their unknown vision. Bands with confidence can translate their ideas and understand the value of producer's ideas, and that itself can open up a record to new heights.

Gavin: What was the public reaction like to that release?

Logan: I think people liked the
Safety EP a lot. It was our first release and it was nice for people to have something to take home after they saw us play a show. We really liked it and were excited about it but the acoustic sound of the EP was very different from our live show so we were ready to record an album that was a more accurate representation of us.

Jordan: I completely agree. We didn't have much expectation for how it would be received, so the fact that people liked this little acoustic influenced EP was really the motivation to do something bigger. We wanted something that people could take home and really listen to.

Gavin: You recently released your first full-length album,
Rhino. What were the differences in recording this album from the EP?

Jordan: Our entire approach was new going into Rhino. Because we wanted so much more out of the new recording, a lot of things had to change such as the quality of sound and, even more so, the overall cohesiveness of the album. We spent a lot of time practicing, talking about the artwork, tracklisting ideas, and even the emotions we wanted the songs to convey. In the end I think we were all really pleased by the way the record portrayed these songs that we cared about so much, whether or not they were accurate with are live show or consistent with the the Safety EP.

Logan: We spent about seven months recording Rhino. We recorded it ourselves in our basement studio. We brought in a few guest musicians: a few string players to play with Hillary(our violist) as a string trio and also a trumpet and trombone player for some more horns, along with my saxophone playing. We worked really hard to find cool sounds and make an album that we liked and were proud of.

Gavin: Are there any plans down the road for a tour or mainly playing local gigs for now?

Logan: Yeah, we are planning on touring a little bit with Hosannas (formerly Church) in June. They're an awesome band from Portland. We're really excited about it.

Gavin: Tell us about thoughts on playing Record Store Day at Slowtrain, and what are your thoughts on the event as a whole?

Logan: We were stoked when Slowtrain asked us to play! Record Store Day is a great day and Slowtrain is such a great record store.

Jordan: Slowtrain has been so kind to us. Seeing so many good line ups in years past, we were really excited to be asked to play this year.

Gavin: Moving onto state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Jordan: Personally, I love Salt Lake and going to local shows in other states reminds how good of a scene we have. Its been hard to see some of my favorite bands move or fade away, but I'm still optimistic.

Ben: I've seen good bands and I've seen awful bands. I've seen awful bands transform to be great, and I've seen great bands go sour. Anything can happen... I just want to be making the best possible music personally.

Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Logan: We love Tolchock Trio, Uzi & Ari, Boots To The Moon, The Lionelle, and Will Sartain.

Jordan: Mathematics Et Cetera and Eden Express have put out some fantastic material too.

Ben: S.L.F.M. and The Universalists.

Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio these days and how its affecting local artists?

Logan: We definitely support community radio.

Gavin: What can we expect from you guys over the rest of the year?

Logan: A tour, some new recordings, and shows!

Ben: PR.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Jordan: An unbelievable Salt Lake band The Lionelle are releasing a new record soon that we are really excited for! That one is not to be missed! Also, anything that S.L.F.M. does is gold.

Logan: And The Awful Truth. Brent is awesome and makes great music.

Ben: Grapefruit juice.

Shane: I'd like to second the notion of The Awful Truth.


Desert Nois
es (Tyler Osmond, Kyle Henderson and Trevor Henderson)

http://www.myspace.com/thedesertnoises

Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little about yourselves.


Kyle:
We are just three friends who love making and listening to music. its our passion. Its what makes us happy.

Gavin: What got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Kyle: I first was really into Modest Mouse. Lonesome Crowded West was and still could be my favorite album of all time. I think that they inspired me to make my own music and join bands.

Gavin: How did you all get together to form Desert Noises?


Kyle: We were all friends and sometimes played old 60s covers for fun, but then I started to learn to play guitar and write my own songs. At that point I wanted to take the songs in a band format. It just kind of happened from there.

Gavin: What was the influence behind the softer alternative music you create, and perfecting that sound for a live performance?

Kyle: There are so many softer bands/artists that we listen to, its hard to just name one. But listening to them all you start to feel their music and energy. The goal is always to recreate how you feel about the song as your playing it live.

Gavin: How was the recording process behind that first self-titled EP, and the challenges you met while creating it?

Kyle: We recorded the EP in four days... We didn't even plan on releasing it... None of us really knew anything about the recording process so I guess the only challenges would be learning how everything worked.

Gavin: What made you originally jump on board with Northplatte Records?

Kyle: Northplatte were the ones that invited us in to record a record. At first there were no plans to be a part of the label, but after recording they really liked it and wanted to help us release it.

Gavin: What was the public reaction like to the album when it was finally release?

Kyle: The reaction was great. We have had some awesome reviews.

Gavin: You're one of the most frequently touring bands out of Utah. Why did you choose to be on the road so much?

Kyle: I didn't know we were on the road that much. But I think we want to be out there more. Its the feeling of playing to someone you have never seen before. I cant really explain it.

Gavin: You're currently working on your new full-length album. What's the progress like on that, and how has it differed from the EP sessions?

Kyle: So much work has gone into writing the songs for the full length. We actually are preparing for this one unlike the last one. I think knowing that we are there to make a real record to release to public will be the biggest difference. But we still plan on recording everything quickly.

Gavin: Going state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Kyle: I think its great. A lot of bands support each other in touring and making records. I think its a great scene to be apart of.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Kyle: I cant think of anything right now...

Gavin: Aside yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?


Kyle: We really love Paror Hawk and the whole Northplatte family, also The Devil Whale and I stumbled on The Continentals recently. The stuff I have heard so far is really great. I'm hoping to catch a live show of theirs soon.


Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio these days and how its affecting local artists?

Kyle: I think its awesome. KRCL has done a lot for us, with playing our songs and also having us on the air live. We love those guys.

Gavin: What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as musicians?

Kyle: I think its fine. We all need to get our music in peoples hands. I would just hope that people would buy it if the liked it.

Gavin: What can we expect from you guys over the rest of the year?

Kyle: The new record! And touring! There will be lots of things to come this year. It will be an exciting year for us.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Kyle: Northplatte Records. they really have some great artists. Parlor Hawk just released their debut album and Joshua James is out on the road right now supporting his recent release. They have been so good to us. We can't thank them enough. Also... be sure to keep up with us for news on things happening in the future.


Glade Sowards

http://www.myspace.com/gladesowards

Gavin: Hey Glade, first off, tell us a little about yourself.

Glade: I’m from Utah originally. Vernal and, later, Park City. Lived out of state on and off for about eight years. Ended up in Salt Lake in 1998 for what was supposed to be a temporary stay… still here. I’ve been playing in bands and writing songs since I was about 13. I’ve tried to leave it now and again, but keep coming back.

Gavin:
What got you interested in music, and who were some of your influences growing up?

Glade:
Wow. Well, early on we used to jam out to rock videos with cardboard air guitars to metal bands. At some point we realized that maybe we could play real ones, so we went to the local pawn shop and bought some old Harmony electrics and started messing around. About that time, I started gravitating to arty stuff, new wave, and some punk. Don’t laugh, but I was really into Duran Duran for a while and then moved on to The Cure, The Violent Femmes, New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, etc. Sometime in high school I stumbled onto a video for R.E.M.’s South Central Rain and that was it! Wall-to-wall R.E.M. I eventually ended up living in the Midwest for a while and really got into the Cowboy Junkies, Vic Chesnutt (R.I.P., Vic), Neil Young, and Uncle Tupelo (and later Wilco and Son Volt). In the mid-to-late-90s, I discovered Drag City Records with great artists like Will Oldham and Edith Frost. Who else? Elliott Smith, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and Neutral Milk Hotel… all great. My biggest obsession for the past few years would have to be Jason Molina’s stuff (Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co.), so it was a real treat to be able to play with Magnolia for a couple shows last year.


Gavin: How did you first get started performing around as a solo artist?

Glade:
For a while I was playing bass with a college band in Southern California. We would do some originals, but mostly covers. We seemed to be doing pretty well and would sell out a lot of good-sized venues, but it wasn’t very satisfying, because I wanted to do more original material. In about 1992, I decided to transfer to a tiny college in Iowa, and when I made the move, I decided to sell all my bass gear and get an acoustic guitar. I think knew like four chords back then on guitar, but I figured I could learn more, and it would let me try my own songs regardless of whether I had a band together or not… tougher to do that on bass. Later I moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and into a really fun and supportive music scene. I got to play a lot of solo shows there and put out my first real CD. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Gavin:
When solo, do you prefer more intimate shows or larger crowds, and why?

Glade:
Well, obviously, it’s fun to play for larger crowds, especially with a band. When I play solo, though, I play pretty quietly, so it’s nice to find a venue where people are there to listen, or will go outside if they’re not into it!. I’ve had some wonderful shows at Kilby Court where folks just sit down and get really quiet and listen. That helps me get more into what I’m doing on stage, and hopefully it’s a better show all the way around. I love Urban Lounge shows, but I’ve seen some quiet acts struggle a little in that setting.

Gavin:
You had been playing around for so long both in band and on your own, why wait until just last year to record an album?


Glade:
Well, I’ve actually done about four “albums” prior to last summer’s release, but I only released two of them (
Rock Island Station and Bile) for pretty limited runs in 1996 and again in 1998. I haven’t been satisfied with a lot of the stuff I’ve recorded, so I tend to just sit on it. The self-titled release from July was actually stuff I’d recorded myself over the past four years or so, and I never really intended to release it. A group of friends got together and snuck some files off my computer and released it for me, which both sweet and terrifying. Sorta like having someone publish pages out of your diary. But I know they meant well by it, and it’s been fun to have something to share with folks again.


Gavin:
What was the process like for you in recording that album?

Glade:
I came up with most of those songs after I’d come home from a bar or seeing a show... often around 2AM or so. I’d usually get some kind of melody in my head and open GarageBand and a word processor. I’d hurry and bang out words in OpenOffice -- about my thoughts and experiences of the evening or whatever -- hit record in GarageBand, and switch back to the lyrics and just do one or two takes, reading the lyrics as I’d go. Then I’d circle back and throw in some harmonies and dump it into iTunes. Done. Most of the tracks were recorded sitting on my couch into my laptop using the tiny little condenser mic at the top of the screen, so you get a lot of fan and hard drive noise and hiss. You can hear some of that on the record. But I like using the laptop like that because sometimes I lose an idea by the time I get more sophisticated recording gear set up and working. I guess I have a short attention span.

Gavin:
Was doing it in a DIY style by preference or more necessity, and how did that go for you?

Glade:
Well, I probably have the resources to do a proper recording, but I never seem to get good takes when I’m in that setting. The songs I’ve done in studios never sound as good as the first demo to me, so I guess it’s just where it ended up. Again, I never really intended to put these recordings out, so the album is what it is. There are tracks I might not have picked, but I figure if those are the songs my friends liked, I can’t really complain. It was such a sweet thing that they did that I have to accept it for what it is.

Gavin:
It officially came out back in July. What did you think of the public reaction to it?

Glade:
Yeah, my friends surprised me with it on stage at Urban Lounge at David Williams’ CD release party. Absolutely blew my mind. Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of great comments and some nice reviews by folks that really warmed my heart. More recently, the record was featured on the Team-Love Records Library, and it's been cool to have a wider audience exposed to my songs.


Gavin:
You're also one of the members of The Black Hens, how is it for you writing material for both a solo project and a group?

Glade:
Well, it’s been interesting. The Black Hens really started as a vehicle for David and I to play our solo material with a full band. I don’t think I originally thought about writing songs specifically for the Hens. I’d just bring whatever I had to the table. After we got going and got a little louder, we realized that the more upbeat stuff worked the best, and I found myself writing more in that style. The Black Hens are sorta on hiatus now, and I’m planning to do more solo shows this year, and now I’m finding that it’s hard to translate some of the Hens material back to a solo setting. Go figure.

Gavin:
Tell us about thoughts on playing Record Store Day at Slowtrain, and what are your thoughts on the event as a whole?


Glade:
This will be my first opportunity to play RSD since Slowtrain opened, and I'm excited to be included alongside so many talented bands/artists. Chris and Anna have done a lot for the SLC music scene, and I'm happy to be a part of the event. I think it shows that despite how you may feel about digital music/downloads/etc., there's still a place for local music, shows, and stores where people can really connect on a direct level.


Gavin:
A bit state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Glade:
Well, it’s really a lot better than it was when I first moved back to SLC. Having venues like Kilby and Urban have allowed local bands to play shows with some great out-of-town acts, and I think it’s really lifted the whole scene. That said, it’s a small scene for a town of this size, and there’s maybe some potential for drama or burnout because everyone knows everyone. But I find that folks are generally really supportive of each other’s projects.

Gavin:
Is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Glade:
The older I get, the more I realize that there’s nothing magic about it. Bands need to work hard, play out often, put out new material, and tour (almost none of which I do, ha ha). If everyone does that and continues to support each other by attending and promoting shows, I think it will only get better.

Gavin:
Not counting your projects, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Glade:
Well, I’m a huge fan of David Williams and not just because we’re friends and have played together for years. His stuff is simply amazing, and don’t let the easy-going bearded guy from the desert thing fool you… that guy works hard on his music, and it shows. Who else? Jay Henderson, The Devil Whale, Andrew Shaw/The Platte, Bluebird Radio, Brian Oakley, Ben Kilbourn, and Will Sartain’s new solo stuff.

Gavin:
What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio these days and how its affecting local artists?

Glade:
KRCL has been a great supporter of local music, and I really appreciate the efforts of Ebay Hamilton and Jamie Gadette to get local bands on the air. I also recently had an opportunity to play on KUER’s Radio West with Andrew Shaw’s band, The Platte, and really enjoyed it. I hope they continue to explore the local scene.

Gavin:
What's your take on file sharing these days and how it affects you as a musician?

Glade:
Well, I know it’s a subject people have strong feelings about, but for me, personally, I think it’s mostly been beneficial. The fact is that there’s a lot of stuff out there right now, and I think “giving some material away” is about the only way to get heard. That said, I think there’s still a role for physical format material, and I’m intrigued by the shift back to selling vinyl with either a CD-R or a download card. That way, there’s still something for fans to purchase and hold. If I think about it, as a kid, I’d record stuff off the radio all the time for mix tapes or whatever. I’d also duplicate my friends tapes on my boombox. It was kind of like lo-fi file sharing, and it often resulted in a purchase of the real record or a T-shirt or a concert ticket down the road. I think it’s more important to get the music out there while you’re figuring out new ways for folks to help compensate you for your efforts.

Gavin:
What can we expect from you over the course of this year?

Glade:
Well, I plan to play more solo shows, and I’m experimenting with some other projects. I'm currently playing with Wren Kennedy and Joey Pedersen (Bluebird Radio) and Jake Fish (Devil Whale) in a new band. So far, we're nameless, but we have a few shows coming up still the same. And I have a new record I'm releasing for Record Store Day. It's sort of the other bookend for the record released last summer on my behalf. It's more demos and live stuff, but hopefully someone will find it interesting.

Gavin:
Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Glade:
Go to local shows. Go to your friends’ shows. Have a house concert. Pick up the guitar. Start a band. Start a label. Tomorrow we die.

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